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Senators balk at stimulating foreign-backed wind farms

A group of senators wants to halt stimulus funding for several wind projects regarding concern that the program has subsidized too many jobs overseas. The dispute began after a planned Texas wind farm with substantial Chinese investment announced it would seek a $450 million stimulus tax credit. The developers initially said the project would support 3,000 jobs in China and about 300 in Texas.

WASHINGTON - A group of senators wants to halt stimulus funding for several wind projects regarding concern that the program has subsidized too many jobs overseas.

The dispute began after a planned Texas wind farm with substantial Chinese investment announced it would seek a $450 million stimulus tax credit. The developers initially said the project would support 3,000 jobs in China and about 300 in Texas.

Now, several Democratic senators, led by Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, are pushing legislation to make such projects ineligible for stimulus money if they don't have a "substantial" impact on U.S. employment.

The matter was debated in two Senate committees Thursday, where Democratic and Republican senators assailed the idea that the Texas project would qualify for the subsidy, yet the turbines would be produced by a Chinese company, A-Power Energy Generation Systems Ltd.

"How do we balance this out in insuring we really do get the bulk of the jobs in this country, and not 6,000 overseas and a couple hundred here," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. "And then claim this is a jobs-producing bill for us?"

Administration officials pushed back against the criticism, saying that the project's... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

WASHINGTON - A group of senators wants to halt stimulus funding for several wind projects regarding concern that the program has subsidized too many jobs overseas.

The dispute began after a planned Texas wind farm with substantial Chinese investment announced it would seek a $450 million stimulus tax credit. The developers initially said the project would support 3,000 jobs in China and about 300 in Texas.

Now, several Democratic senators, led by Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, are pushing legislation to make such projects ineligible for stimulus money if they don't have a "substantial" impact on U.S. employment.

The matter was debated in two Senate committees Thursday, where Democratic and Republican senators assailed the idea that the Texas project would qualify for the subsidy, yet the turbines would be produced by a Chinese company, A-Power Energy Generation Systems Ltd.

"How do we balance this out in insuring we really do get the bulk of the jobs in this country, and not 6,000 overseas and a couple hundred here," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. "And then claim this is a jobs-producing bill for us?"

Administration officials pushed back against the criticism, saying that the project's developers haven't yet sought the tax credit.

"There is not a Texas wind project, other than on a press release," said Matt Rogers, senior adviser for Recovery Act implementation at the Department of Energy.

"So until we see that, it is really hard to evaluate that."

The project's developer, the U.S. Renewable Energy Group, now says that 70 percent of the turbine components would come from the U.S.

"The vast majority of the jobs created as a result of the 600-MW wind farm will be located in the United States and done by American workers," said Cappy McGarr, a Dallas investor and managing partner of U.S. Renewable Energy Group.

"It is incorrect to assume that the hundreds of additional jobs created aside from the direct construction and operation of the Texas plant would be outside the U.S."

The Recovery Act law allows the Texas developers to claim the tax credit, and it appears likely that legislation would be needed to block them from getting it.

"If you make that investment - you turn the thing on - according to the rules of that grant, they get the tax credit," Energy Secretary Steven Chu told The Dallas Morning News.

"Certainly, the concern of this Recovery Act money going to stimulate as many American jobs as possible is a legitimate concern.

"Having said that, consider the alternative.

"If we didn't have something that stimulated investment in wind in the United States, what we will see is what Europe has seen - the investments in the factories go abroad."


Source: http://www.amarillo.com/sto...

MAR 7 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/24977-senators-balk-at-stimulating-foreign-backed-wind-farms
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